Via IEVS, Tom Moloughney's (of BMW PEV fame) review:
Hyundai Kona Electric: Compelling EV That U.S. May Barely Get to Know
Lots of positive stuff, then:
. . . So if all of this is true then it can’t be a compliance car, right? Well, I’m not too sure about that. It’s true that the Kona Electric a really nice overall package. . . .
Now for the bad news. The 2019 Hyundai Kona EV will launch in California only, and at some point months later, become available in the other nine CARB ZEV states. (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont). I was told by Hyundai representatives that there’s no guarantee they will offer the Kona EV outside of the ZEV states at any point, and that even if they do the dealers in those states likely won’t stock them. However, if a customer in a non-ZEV state wants one, they can special order it from a Hyundai dealer, but they’d need to do so without seeing or test driving it.
Also, I was able to squeeze some exclusive news for InsideEVs from Hyundai senior Manager of eco and performance powertrains, Jerome Gregeois. Gregeois told me that the Hyundai Kona Electrics sent to North America WILL NOT have active battery heating, unlike the cars going to European countries. Instead, they will only have thermal management with active battery cooling, but not heating. That’s a pretty significant sign to me that Hyundai isn’t serious about selling the Kona electric in the Northern states or Canada, where battery pre-conditioning in the winter months is very important.
So, there’s the initial launch in January 2019 in California only, followed at some unspecified point by the other CARB ZEV states, with no clear plan to expand sales beyond those states. With these distribution plans, Hyundai USA clearly isn’t expecting to get a lot of Kona Electrics from the mothership. Add to that the fact that Hyundai is eliminating active battery heating from the Kona Electric for North America, (to save money, I suppose) and I can’t help but get that compliance car feeling in my gut.
And that’s too bad. I like the Kona Electric. Correction, I really like the Kona Electric. So much so that I previously cancelled my Tesla Model 3 reservation and had intended on getting one once they became available in New Jersey. Going on the press drive had two purposes for me. First, of course, to report back here on my initial impressions and secondly, to get a pre-launch test drive and confirm my interest in buying one.
However, the apparent lack of availability, combined with the deletion of battery heating for the US market leaves me a little unsure if a Kona Electric will find its way onto our garage.
Compliance EV? We’ll let you decide.
The lack of battery heating for NA cars is a mistake, but one I expect they'll correct at some point down the road once they can produce enough cars. Still disappointing. I wonder if Kia will do the same with the Niro? It's bad enough that the latter lacks a heat pump, which isn't an issue for routine local use and commuting, but will be for range on road (ski) trips in states like California where temps rarely drop into the teens or below until you're at the ski area, and even then often only at night.